For decades, critics have complained that Fulton County government spends too much and listens too little. Botched elections, jail overcrowding and other controversies have fueled the perception that Fulton is dysfunctional.
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The Fulton Board of Commissioners at a glance.
Commissioners, who serve four-year terms, seldom face opposition when they run for re-election, the AJC found.
John Eaves, D-Atlanta.
District: 1 (Chairman)
Occupation: Executive Consultant for TalentQuest
First elected: 2006
Profile: A year after losing a bid for Atlanta City Council, Eaves became the first Democrat to hold the Fulton County chairman’s seat since 1993. He drew no opposition when he ran for re-election in 2010.
Robb Pitts, D-Atlanta
Occupation: Financial representative for New England Financial
First elected: 2002
Profile: Pitts is one of two at-large commissioners whose districts include the entire county. He previously spent more than 20 years as an Atlanta City Councilman and ran unsuccessfully for Atlanta mayor in 2001. Pitts has faced opposition in both of his re-election bids but won handily both times. He’s considering a challenge to Chairman John Eaves next year. That would pit the commission’s two at-large members – both Democrats – against each other.
Liz Hausmann, R-Alpharetta
Occupation: Public policy coordinator for the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
First elected: 2010
Profile: Hausmann is one of two freshmen commissioners and has not yet run for re-election.
Tom Lowe, R-Atlanta
Occupation: Retired engineer
First elected: 1974
Profile: Lowe, the longest-serving commissioner, has run unopposed in six of his nine re-election campaigns.
Emma Darnell, D-Atlanta
Occupation: Consultant and motivational speaker
First elected: 1992
Profile: Darnell ran unsuccessful campaigns for the Atlanta City Council and the County Commission before winning a special election to fill a vacant commission seat in 1992. She has not drawn an opponent in any of her five re-election contests.
Joan Garner, D-Atlanta
Occupation: Consultant for nonprofit agencies
First elected: 2010
Profile: Garner is one of two freshmen commissioners and has not yet run for re-election.
William “Bill” Edwards, D-Fairburn
Occupation: Insurance agent and owner of an Allstate neighborhood office
First elected: 2000
Profile: Six years after an unsuccessful run for state Senate, Edwards prevailed among 13 candidates who sought to replace Michael Hightower. Hightower resigned after pleading guilty to federal public corruption charges. Edwards has drawn an opponent in only one of his three re-election campaigns.
— Staff writer Johnny Edwards contributed to this report.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has uncovered numerous problems in Fulton County government over the years and tracked proposed solutions to some of those problems in the recent legislative session. Today, as part of our continuing coverage, we examine why the county’s troubles seldom prompt voters to seek new blood on the Board of Commissioners.